Blimey. This isn't quite what we expected from the brave new Standard when it was taken over by Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev. London's "quality" evening paper will be free from 12 October, more than doubling its distribution from 250,000 to 600,000 copies a day.
Is this a brave or a stupid move? With thelondonpaper's death still very fresh in the memory and the FT's CEO agreeing with Murdoch that papers should abandon the "free is good" principle online, giving the paper away seems an idea rooted in the past. Have the owners looked at falling circulations and rising criticisms and panicked? Oddly enough (or not), we can't find much coverage on the Standard's own site to give any insight.
A few of other interesting questions come to mind. With Associated Newspapers still holding a (near) 25% stake in the Standard, does this spell the end of their own London Lite? (We can only hope.) What's going to happen to the vendors and their iconic shouts? And will going free make any bloody difference to the content? Anyone concerned that standards at the Standard may drop probably hasn't looked at a copy recently; we leave the final word on the paper's current state to Twitter's Dr Samuel Johnson:
Th' Evening Standard merely informs Londoners whether they are to be stabb'd & what the Children of the Gentry do wear